Best Survival Books, Manual and Guides Of All Time

best survival books

Welcome to my review of the best survival books of all time…

Survival is one of the most basic and primal human instincts.

These instincts can automatically kick in and prove useful when faced with an emergency or disaster.

However, comfortable modern life doesn’t exactly equip us with survival skills to complement these instincts.

When disaster strikes and all hell breaks loose, you’ll need your instincts AND some crucial survival skills.

They may just save your life.

 Best Books to Acquire Bushcraft & Wilderness Skills At A Glance

  • The Lost Ways Survival Book by Claude Davis
  • The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies by Dr. Nicole Apelian
  • Alive After the Fall
  • Your Survival by Dr. Bob Arnot and Mark Cohen
  • Wilderness Survival 2nd edition by Gregory J. Davenport
  • How to Stay Alive in the Woods by Bradford Angier
  • Outdoor Survival Skills by Larry Dean Olsen
  • Be Ready When The Sh*t Goes Down by Forrest Griffin
  • Northern Bushcraft by Mors L. Kochanski
  • The Survival Handbook by Colin Towell
  • Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere
  • Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness Survival
  • Mountaineering First Aid: A Guide to Accident Response and First Aid Care

 Top 13 Survivalist Handbooks Ever Written – Outdoor Life Books For Survival Skills

Top Survivalist Handbooks

We’ve spent several hours researching the best survival books available in 2021.

They cover everything from urban survival techniques that will help you be prepared when disaster strikes to the essential skills you need to stay alive in the woods and maybe even THRIVE in these situations.

From the complete newbie to those already experienced in wilderness survival, there’s something for everyone.

1) The Lost Ways Survival Book by Claude Davis

The lost ways

With technology at our fingertips, we’ve lost our way with many of the survival skills our ancestors strongly relied on.

  • But what do we again have to survive without any reliance on our modern-day technology?
  • Would you know how?

Written by experienced professional survival expert Claude Davis, “The Lost Ways” helps set you on a path toward learning the many skills we have forgotten in modern society.

The author explains how ancient skills that may seem mundane to most of us could be used to save our lives.

Although Claude is quite the topic guru, he keeps his explanations simple.

He engages the reader with stories from his childhood experiences and emphasizes the importance of passing on knowledge from one generation to another.

“The Lost Ways” is one of the best survival books to prepare everyday people to be more self-sufficient when a crisis strikes.

This book covers many basic survival skills, including:

  • Preserving and cleaning water
  • Making “weapons” without the use of modern technology
  • Creating animal traps as our ancestors did
  • More life-saving strategies, such as constructing underground bunkers

2) The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies by Dr. Nicole Apelian

The lost book of remedies

Co-written by experienced herbalist Dr. Nicole Apelian (Ph.D.) and The Lost Ways author Claude Davis, “The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies” helps you rediscover the incredible power of plants.

Dr. Apelian certainly walks the talk.

She has lived and worked with one of the Kalahari tribes in Africa and was one of the first women to be selected for the history channel’s TV show “Alone”.

During this time, her outdoor survival skills were put to the test.

She stayed alive in the woods for 57 days with little more than her knife and the plants around her.

Nicole has extensive experience in creating powerful health remedies from plants that have helped both herself and countless others on a path to healing with the power of plants.

The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies could be considered a plant-focused survival medicine handbook.

It offers a comprehensive guide on identifying and using different medicinal plants for specific health issues.

In it, you’ll find detailed instructions on how to make herbal remedies using plants.

3) Alive after the Fall


“Alive after the Fall” by Alexander Cain is a survival guide that offers strategies to prepare for and survive attacks and other catastrophes.

Some readers describe it as a good beginner’s book to prepare for difficult times.

Others caution about the misinformation that is not factually correct and may even be harmful.

The tips in this emergency survival handbook may be most relevant to people who own a large rural property.

4) Your Survival by Dr. Bob Arnot and Mark Cohen

Your Survival

“Your Survival: Protect Yourself from Tornadoes, Earthquakes, Flu Pandemics, and Other Disasters” is a full package (survival handbook, video, and organizer) designed to help you prepare for and recover from any large-scale emergency.

With checklists to help you prepare your home and stock up on emergency food supplies, it could be considered an urban survival book for times of crisis.

After reading this book you should be armed with enough knowledge to gather first aid supplies and other useful items for a basic survival kit.

Co-authored by Bob Arnot and Mark Cohen, this survival book is a good option for those who want to get started with an urban survival plan, should disaster strike.

5) Wilderness Survival 2nd edition by Gregory J. Davenport

Wilderness Survival

Wilderness Survival 2nd Edition covers all the basic survival skills you need to survive in the wild.

These include personal protection, signaling for help, and finding food and water.

As a comprehensive wilderness survival manual, this book is a highly recommended survival guide for anyone looking to develop their outdoor survival skills.

This outdoor survival book’s advice will help you stay alive and calm until help arrives.

Written by survival instructor Greg Davenport, considered one of the top experts in his field, this survival manual will better prepare you for your next wilderness adventure.

From planning and preparation to the practicalities of finding and using resources when you need them, it could be considered your ultimate guide to long-term survival in the wild.

6) How to Stay Alive in the Woods by Bradford Angier

how to stay alive in the woods

With an average 4.6/5 rating across 1200 reviews on Amazon, “How to Stay Alive in the Woods” is one of the most highly recommended survival books on the market.

Written by American wilderness survivalist Bradford Angier, this is just one of over 35 related books he authored during his lifetime.

A proponent of minimalist-style living off the land, his philosophy is illustrated throughout this survival book.

The practical information could be more detailed and modernized, but Angier highlights plenty of simple and useful tips.

Although this might not be the ultimate survival manual, it is described as both nostalgic and humorous.

It includes a guide to edible wild plants and practical tips for important survival skills such as navigation, building fires, and staying found.

7) Outdoor Survival Skills by Larry Dean Olsen

Outdoor survival skills

In his book “Outdoor Survival Skills” Larry Dean Olsen guides you on how to survive in the wild without needing expensive gear.

Influenced and inspired by Native American Cultures, Larry was one of the early pioneers in survival education.

Recommended for any bushcraft enthusiast, his wilderness survival book covers essential and practical survival techniques.

Examples include building fires and shelters and how to utilize both plants and animals for food in the wild.

8) Be Ready When The Sh*t Goes Down by Forrest Griffin

Be Ready When The Shit Goes Down

Most survival books are very serious in their approach.

After all, survival is generally considered to be a very serious matter! Co-written by Ultimate fighter champ Forrest Griffin and author Erich Krauss, “Be ready when the Sh**t goes down: A survival guide to the apocalypse” is not your typical serious survival book.

Many readers describe it as “hilarious”, and its high entertainment value makes it a top-rated read for many.

Easy to read and full of jokes, it also includes simple and practical tips for survival.

As the book title implies, this one is not for those easily offended!

If you’re looking for the ultimate guide to long-term survival, look elsewhere.

For a good (adults only) laugh and some basic education at best, this could be the most ridiculous AND funniest survival book on the market!

9) Northern Bushcraft by Mors L. Kochanski

Northern Bushcraft

A much more realistic and practical survival handbook than Forrest’s advice for surviving the apocalypse is “Northern Bushcraft” by Mors L. Kochanski.

Considered an authority in wilderness living and survival skills, Kochanski’s survival guide will help you prepare for extended stays in the wild.

This informative survival book offers advice for using simple materials and tools to help you survive in the wild.

It’s a classic “must-read” for any bushcraft enthusiast, especially if you’re looking for detailed information about using and looking after survival tools such as axes and knives.

10) The Survival Handbook by Colin Towell

The survival handbook

“The Survival Handbook: Essential Skills for Outdoor Adventure” is a comprehensive survival guide that any outdoor adventurer should consider reading.

You can’t go wrong with this survival book for a concise yet detailed step-by-step guide.

Written by combat survival instructor Colin Towell, this book’s practical information will help you with the confidence to properly plan and prepare for your next outdoor expedition.

Learn crucial skills such as finding and catching wild food, building shelters, and essential emergency first-aid techniques.

This book is a great option if you’re looking for a step-by-step handbook and survival guide.

It offers a wealth of easy-to-follow information alongside plenty of great visual illustrations.

11) Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere – Alive by Les Stroud


Written by the creator of the Survivorman TV series, “Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere,” it is one of the most highly-rated survival books you can buy.

Passionate, knowledgeable, and experienced survivalist Les Stroud shows everyday readers how he has survived in some of the harshest areas of the world.

Not only for the toughest adventurers, but this real-world survival guide also has something to teach everyone.

Although Les is a wealth of knowledge, he keeps his advice succinct and sticks to the essential skills you need.

Les will show you what to put in your survival kit for a specific real-life survival situation, whether you are faced with a natural disaster or an unexpected situation on your day hike.

His simple tips are practical for the modern-day person and serve as a reminder that you don’t always need to be a complete bushcraft guru to increase your chances of survival.

12) Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness Survival

Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival

A hunter and tracker since eight, Tom Brown has authored a practical series of field guides.

These include a guide to edible wild plants, a city and suburban living survival book, and a guide to nature observation and tracking.

His highly-rated “Guide to Wilderness Survival” is a survival handbook that covers all the crucial areas of wilderness survival, including the essentials of food, water, shelter, and warmth.

This is another great survival guide inspired by ancient wisdom yet applicable to the modern-day adventurer.

13) Mountaineering First Aid: A Guide to Accident Response and First Aid Care

Mountaineering First Aid

Focusing specifically on first aid in the mountain environment, “Mountaineering First Aid” meets the current standards of the Wilderness Medical Society and the American Red Cross.

Written to help you stay safe in the backcountry, quick-reference checklists help make this an easy-to-follow survival handbook.

From treating minor and severe injuries to equipment recommendations, this is one of the best first-aid books for outdoor enthusiasts.

What wilderness survival skills can you learn from the best survival books?

Outdoor survival books share some of the best survival hacks and crucial strategies for self-preservation in any survival situation.

Whether you are suddenly faced with a natural disaster or need wilderness survival techniques, a great survival manual can give you the confidence and the practical advice to put your survival skills into action when you most need them.

Of course, you might want to further develop your wilderness survival skills in other ways.

A survival app could be helpful, along with related training courses.

The top wilderness survival books may be exactly what you need to get started before you decide which skills you want to develop further.

Reading survival books is a great first step before applying your knowledge in the real world.

Wilderness survival skills for outdoor life and primitive wilderness living

The wilderness survival books we have carefully selected can help you in many ways.

Some of the survival skills and advice they cover include:

  • Bushcraft first aid care
  • Building shelters
  • Finding food and identifying wild edible plants
  • Recommendations for the best survival gear
  • Compass skills
  • Other survival skills to help you stay alive in the woods

Overall, the advice in these books will help you enjoy your next outdoor adventure with confidence.

Many of these books can also help you learn important long-term survival skills should you ever need them.

Books for basic living skills and everyday survival tips

Not only focused on the great outdoors, but some of the survival books we’ve chosen have also improved readers’ everyday lives.

From personal safety tips to preserving food or setting up off-the-grid power for everyday life, you’ll have your modern survival skills sorted.

One reality we all have to face is that mother nature, and even the world, can be unpredictable.

Natural disasters or manmade attacks could strike at any time.

Specific knowledge you can apply in these survival situations is crucial for self-preservation.

It could be the difference between life and death.

Disaster strikes in my home city, Christchurch, New Zealand

Several years ago, more than one large earthquake hit my home city of Christchurch, New Zealand.

One of the large earthquakes, with its epicenter in the city, proved fatal for over 200 people. Another destroyed many homes in the area.

These earthquakes affected the lives of every person in our city.

In the initial aftermath of disasters like these, you might require significant physical strength to simply get yourself and others out of danger zones.

Physical stamina and endurance may be needed.

If roads are blocked or destroyed, you might need to walk for several hours to reunite with loved ones.

First aid skills are also invaluable during these times.

In the days and weeks following the major earthquakes in our city, power outages and water loss affected the lives of everyday people.

Lineups for gas and water refills highlighted how unprepared most of us were for this situation.

And although the earthquake wasn’t able to be predicted or avoided, there were steps we could have taken to be better prepared.

The earthquakes spurred everyone into action.

This was the first time most people in our city had ever considered putting together a survival kit.

And from that point onwards, EVERYONE made sure they had one.

Don’t wait for a disaster to spur you into action.

Whatever your reasons for exploring this topic now, we’ve sorted you with our top recommendations for the best survival books.

In summary

There are several great survival books on the market.

Maybe you’re looking for one because you were inspired by the reality TV show “Dual Survival.”

Or perhaps you know you want to arm yourself with more knowledge and skills for your next outdoor adventure.

Conversely, you might just want to be as prepared as you can be for any disaster – natural or manmade.

Whatever your motivations, we hope you’ve gained some insights on where to start with a survival book that’s right for where you’re at.

After you’ve read one or more survival books, it’s time to apply your theoretical knowledge.

Take action and put together your survival kit.

Get out there and experience the wilderness first-hand. Make sure you choose a level of adventure that is a good fit for your current knowledge, skills, and experience.

If you’ve already read many of our recommendations above, some other highly recommended survival books include: